Pipeline2, Issue #32: The Inker's Story


Wolverine #147

Last week we talked to Derek Fridolfs, who scored his big break in the comics business with a guest-inking gig in WOLVERINE #147. In the first part of the interview, we concerned ourselves with his interesting story of breaking into the business. This week we concentrate more on the technical and artistic side, along with what's up ahead for him.

There are plenty of odd things that happen in the comics business that those of us on the outside never realize or think about. When I conducted this interview last month, Derek had already handed in his pages. He knew he'd be splitting the issue with another inker, but didn't get the chance to see who that other inker was until the issue came out last week! Aside from a paycheck, he hadn't really heard from Marvel on what they thought of the job. (I'd call it a good sign that they paid him. ;-) There haven't been any further job offers from Marvel that Derek can talk about since then, either. Welcome to the world of the automaton: do your work, collect your pay, get out.

This isn't to say he's washed up already. He's landed an apparently regular inking gig for WildStorm on their new title, GEN ACTIVE, the anthology series coming soon to comic stores near you.

"WildStorm actually had contacted me towards the end of my stint inking WOLVERINE, to offer me some work," Derek explained. "My samples had been passed from one editor to another, and they were interested to see my inks on a GEN13 cover. As it turned out, they were waiting on the cover and by the time they got it from the artist, I was out of town (and they needed it done quickly, so they turned to one of their in-house guys). But they contacted me when I got back in town, and I'm currently working on a 10-page story that will be featured in the brand new title, Gen Active, which should be offered in Diamond Previews to ship in March (plug plug). The first issue will have Jay Faerber, Dan Abbet, Andy Lanning, Brian Hitch, Paul Neary, Dustin Nguyen, and Dan Norton involved...so I'm excited to involved with such a large group of varied professionals. I'm even more excited to see what WildStorm's great coloring department does with the title."

It's only his second job and he's already gotten the art of self-promotion down pat!


The tools Derek uses for the job consist mostly of pen and marker. (You can hear the old-fashioned brush artistes grimacing already.) He says he uses them because it allows him to be "more detailed in my inks, which I fear the brush would make me far sloppier (but much quicker). Brush is good for filling in larger areas, but for the most part I stick to my pens. I'm using some Japanese special micron pens, which are a lot like Rapidographs. I've got my girlfriend to thank for introducing them to me, since she never had any use for them -- and now I do :) What it comes down to is use whatever gets the job done. I don't know how many artists and editors have told me my work looks like that of a brush, and as long as they like that, then no problem."

With those tools, it took Derek about a page a day to ink over Roger Cruz's work for WOLVERINE.

PencilsDerek Fridolfs


"Roger has some very clean pages," Derek said, nearing the end of the WOLVERINE job. "So it makes things much easier to work on. I'm currently working on some very detailed pages which are slowing me down a little more, due to all the techno-detail in them."

Generally speaking, though, Derek mentioned that Cruz's art was very clean. In fact, he suspects Cruz might be doing the rough pencils on one page and blowing them up to a lightboard to tighten them up. This works out best for Derek, who says he prefers cleaner pencils to ink from:

"My inks gravitate more towards the cleaner style, which I feel I can continue in the artist's tradition to make it even bolder and tighten it with my inks. A looser style can be just as much fun, since then it's more up to myself to add my style to it."

  - Derek Fridolfs

One of those other questions no interview would be complete without is the one of scheduling. How do professional comic artists and writers (including colorists, letterers, and all the rest) manage their schedule? When you're talking about a freelancer, the answers are always varied and interesting.

"Before I started to finally get some ink work, I basically would work on pages for practice and to submit to companies...usually about a page a day, 5 to 7 a week or so," Derek began. "It's kinda funny in a way, but I've got a huge drawer and portfolio full of many different pages I've inked over of a variety of artists, and it's only now that I'm actually working on real ones to get paid. I'm a night owl so I've gotten very used to working on pages mainly at night into the early morning. But now that I'm working a graveyard shift job, I'm now able to work on pages during the daylight...and thus, am able to be home to get any calls from any editors looking for me.

"In between working on contracted work, I do like to work on samples just to keep in practice, try out new things, and always looking to send out to companies. Always got to look for the next gig."


So now that he's got his foot in the door, where would he like to go from here? What is Derek Fridolf's dream job? For the most part, it boils down to the classics: Hulk or Spider-Man or Superman. In part it's due to the nature of these timeless icons, and in part it has to do with the creators involved. John Romita Jr. is something of an idol of Derek's, and he's enjoying the work of Joe Kelly on SUPERMAN. The list goes on to include doing anything with Jeff Smith (who published a pin-up of his in the back of BONE #32), Chris Bachalo, Mike Mignola, Humberto Ramos, Joe Madureira, or Mike Wieringo.

Of course, what creator these days doesn't want to dabble with something that he's created himself? "I'd love to work on my own character as well. It's something that I haven't devoted quite enough time to developing (I'm nursing it along slowly), but eventually I'd like to do my own creation, have a few issues in the can, and then pitch it around. Until then...I'm just happy to have gotten a few lucky breaks! And I'm always open for more :)"

I'd like to thank Derek for taking the time out to do this interview. If you want to ask him anything (or offer him work), his e-mail address is open at Legynd@aol.com.


Then come back here next Friday for a look at Alan Moore's line of imaginative comics, America's Best Comics. I'll be picking apart all of the titles and naming a "Best of Show," too. (The weekly guerilla warfare column tactics will be employed, as always, on Tuesday as well!)

The Pipeline message board is as active as ever, despite a couple of small technical glitches that may not make that apparent on the front page. =)

Finally, there's a strong possibility of a Pipeline Chat hour coming up, too, at the CBR Chat Area. Stay tuned for details.

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